Temple Bar whiskey emporium objectors say area will be uninhabitable

Owner of Temple Bar Inn sets out plan for high-end shop catering to cruise ship trade

The court heard from objector Frank McDonald that ‘unscrupulous developers in the area care not one iota for Temple Bar residents’. File photograph: The Irish Times

The court heard from objector Frank McDonald that ‘unscrupulous developers in the area care not one iota for Temple Bar residents’. File photograph: The Irish Times


Objectors to the development of “a high-end whiskey shop” in Dublin’s Temple Bar have told a judge that if pub licences continue to be handed out to publicans and developers the area will become uninhabitable.

Local resident Frank McDonald told Judge James McCourt in the Circuit Civil Court on Thursday that various ruses had been used by publicans previously to extend their premises or open new pubs and off-licences.

The former Irish Times environment editor said one reason once put forward by another publican for a revised licensed premises extension was that the extra licensed area was going to be used as an oyster bar.

Mr McDonald, giving evidence on behalf of the objectors, said their great fear is that the proposed whiskey emporium in the former North Face retail shop would become an extension to the Temple Bar Inn owned by publican Tom Cleary, or just another pub.

“Unscrupulous developers in the area care not one iota for Temple Bar residents,” he said.

Mr McDonald and his fellow objectors, Declan O’Brien and Conal O’Sullivan, succeeded in convincing Dublin City Council not to grant planning permission and an An Bord Pleanála inspector agreed with them on an appeal by Mr Cleary. The planning board had overruled its own appeals inspector and granted permission.

Constance Cassidy SC, for Mr Cleary, was granted a declaratory order by the judge. This means that if new premises are completed in accordance with the planning permission Mr Cleary’s Temple Inns Ltd will receive a seven-day publican’s licence for consumption of alcohol on the premises.

Mr Cleary told Ms Cassidy he had assembled Ireland’s largest whiskey collection which would be housed in the new emporium. He said neither he nor his wife, a co-director of Temple Inns, would be operating the new whiskey shop as a public house. He said that in 2010 there were only 10 whiskey distillers in Ireland and now there are 38, all of which had been granted full seven-day pub licences.

He had been impressed while in London with the idea of a high-end whiskey shop where customers could relax on comfortable settees and taste various whiskeys while a piano played background music as they were informed of the distillation process and the development of the various whiskey tastes. He planned facilitating the growing cruise ship trade to Dublin port.

‘A bottle of hooch’

Michael O’Donnell, counsel for the objectors, said that for the court to grant a declaratory order would be giving Temple Inns what Mr Cleary had specifically stated in evidence he had not sought during the planning process – that was permission to develop a fully licensed public house.

The judge said he believed that the planning board knew precisely what was being sought when Mr Cleary’s application came before them – a whiskey shop where customers could taste various whiskies in comfort.

“If I was being asked to pay a few hundred euro for a bottle of hooch I would certainly like to taste it first and know what I was paying for and know that I wasn’t breaking the law,” said the judge.

He did not think the new emporium would be joined up and become just a bigger version of the Temple Bar Inn as the existing pub on the corner of Temple Lane was separated in perpetuity by a fire escape facilitating residential apartments.

Mr O’Donnell was told the court did not consider he required any stay on the court’s order to facilitate an appeal to the High Court.